The Salvinos: A Taylor Street Odyssey

The Salvinos: A Taylor Street Odyssey

The Salvinos: A Taylor Street Odyssey  


The Salvino liquor store stood as a beacon guiding residents and visitors alike to the fabled corner of Taylor and Halsted streets.   It anchored the major shopping district for the Italian American enclave that occupied the central portion of the near west side community that Jane Addams had labeled, “The Hull House Neighborhood.”  


The original turn-of-the century community, a slum by anyone’s definition, served as the port of call for the eastern and southern European immigrants.  Those immigrants served as the fuel that fed America’s industrial revolution.  It wasn’t until 1923 that the Federal Government, not needing any further fodder to fuel the industrial revolution, turned off the spigot that allowed Eastern and Southern Europeans into the country.  

TURN OF THE CENTURY PROGRESSIVES: Polluting the American Gene Pool.

The turn of the century progressives were technocrats who liberal reformer, Thomas Leonard, observes “agreed that expert public administrators do not merely serve the common good, they also identify the common good.” Schools of public administration, including the one that since 1948 has borne Woodrow Wilson’s name, still enshrine that conviction.

Leonard also brings to light an embarrassing truth: In the early 20th century, the progressive definition of the common good was thoroughly infused with scientific racism. Harvard economist William Z. Ripley, for example, was a recognized expert on both railroad  HYPERLINK “” \l “v=onepage&q=william%20z%20ripley%20railroads&f=false” regulation and the  HYPERLINK “” \l “v=onepage&q=william%20z%20ripley%20the%20races%20of%20europe&f=false” classification of European races by coloring, stature and “cephalic index,” or head shape. At the University of Wisconsin, the red-hot center of progressive thought, leading social scientists turned out economic-reform proposals along with works parsing the racial characteristics — and supposed natural inferiority — of blacks, Chinese, and non-Teutonic European immigrants.

In following the irrefutable science of that era day, it was concluded, with the precision of geometric logic, that the American gene pool was being polluted by people from the Mediterranean region. The polluters included those whose ancestries gave us the “cradle of civilization” and  the Golden Age of Greece.  Dominant in that mix of Leonard’s gene polluters were the Italians who nourished and passed on to us all that we now enjoy as western civilization and the Renaissance.  The people whose ancestors discovered, explored, and named  this great country by being the first to sail across the great ocean in search of a way to circumvent the dominance of the Muslim world over Europe were proven, by the science of that day, to be polluting the gene pool of the settlers whose pedigree stems from the barbaric horde that produce the dark ages from which we emerged via the Italian led Renaissance. 


America, specifically the state of California, which spearheaded the eugenics program during the early part of the 20th century, exported and, in some cases financed, the eugenics program which found its way across the seas to the political platforms of foreign governments. 

The defense attorneys at the Nuremberg War Trials subpoenaed the documents of American Scientists, politicians, academicians, etc. in support of following the alleged science of the day, regardless of where it led us.  

The Salvino’s are one of the allegedly inferior Southern Italian families who found their way to America and became part of the Taylor Street legacy known as Chicago’s Little Italy.  Their Odyssey, spearheaded by the matriarch of the family, began in Calabria, a province in southern Italy.  Their exodus to the Tuscany region of northern Italy with its cultural legacy apparently had its impact.  Their vision of America, as the land of opportunity and their successes in pursuit of the Dream, are chronicled here in their story.



The Greeks and Jews moved out of the near west side community beginning with the Prohibition Era of the 20’s.  Only their businesses remained, e.g., Greek Town and Jew Town (Maxwell Street). The Italians remained as the only viable community beyond the prohibition days, the great depression, WWII, the disruption by the 2 major expressways that ripped away the eastern and southern segments of what was now known as “Little Italy,” and the usurping of the neighborhood with the construction of the UIC campus.  (Aside: While many blamed Mayor Daly and the West-Side mob for dismembering the neighborhood, Florence Scala pointed her finger at “The Hull House mob.”)  

Jane Addams, the co-founder of the Hull House Settlement House (1889), became the premier social theorist of her day.  The immigrant community became the laboratory upon which she applied her sociological theories (symbolic interactionism) and based her protests to the establishment.  

She recognized the neglect of the neighborhood by the establishment (both physical and otherwise) would result in a great majority of them remaining servants to, rather than participants in, the Dream, for generations to come. Some of those early immigrants, not many, but some, defied our sociological soothsayers. They, along with their first generation offspring, did not remain servants to the Dream.  Some pursued and captured the Dream because of their entrepreneurial spirit.  Others, despite their agrarian beginnings, climbed the educational ladder in pursuit of the Dream. The Salvinos, right out of the chute, apparently, did both.   



Supporting the profound failure prediction of our sociological soothsayers, for the Italian segment of the near west side slums, was a 1970s federal study.  Italian Americans were at the bottom rung of the educational ladder for all Europeans, as identified as enrollment in college.   

The Odyssey

To begin at the beginning, the Salvino odyssey began in Calabria, one of the southern provinces that participated in the mass exodus from southern Italy at the turn of the 20th century.  It was there that Secondo Salvino, in 18___, made the decision to move his family to Urbino, a city in the northern province of Tuscany.  Urbino, at that time, was noted for having more Jewish residents than any other city in Europe.  The lure for Secondo Salvino was the promise of a job as a mailman.  Anna, Secondo’s wife, had always been impressed with the fact that a government job was noteworthy in that it provided security.  

Primo, Secondo’s older brother, died as a result of falling off a cliff in the mountainous region of Urbino while delivering mail.  It was there, in Tuscany, that the Salvinos shed the agrarian values of southern Italy in favor of the renaissance culture that placed a high value on education.  Aside: Secondo insisted that he be recognized as an immigrant from the culturally sophisticated Tuscan region rather than an immigrant from the unsophisticated agrarian region of Calabria.  


Secondo and his wife, Anna????_____________, had 8 children.  (See attached Appendix A for the family tree as it existed prior to emigrating from Italy to America.) Their second son, Secondo #2, born in 1893, became the head of the Salvino clan that immigrated to America and made their mark as one of the founding merchants on the Legendary Taylor Street’s Little Italy.  Secondo’s death in ___________, as a result of____________, left Anna a widow to care for their 7 surviving children.  (_____________, the fifth of the eight children died at the age of __________ from ____________.)   

In 1905, Carmen Salvino, (relationship?_________________), agreeing to finance their exodus, Anna, along with her 7 children, made the journey across the Atlantic to America.  Despite their northern Italy origins, they settled into Chicago’s Taylor Street along with the hordes of immigrants that had emigrated from the shores of southern Italy, which included paisons from Calabria, their original Italian origins.  Their documented Chicago address was 172 W. Taylor Street. Given the refiguring of street addresses since then and given that the Italian community began west of the Chicago River, that may have placed them near the Taylor Halsted intersection.  


Secondo, as the 12 year old son of an immigrant parent, attended _____________?? elementary school followed by _____________high school.  The 1910 census listed Secondo’s occupation, at age 17, as a tailor employed by Hart, Schaffner and Marx.  Among the variety of jobs he encountered during that time period, Secondo serviced the Orthodox Jews on the south end of the neighborhood.  Orthodox Jews were forbidden to perform chores on their Sabbath, Saturday. Those chores included lighting their stoves during the winter.   The Jews who occupied the southern end of the Hull House neighborhood had also emigrated from Urbino and perhaps explains how it was that the Salvino’s evolved as a subculture within a subculture.     



Secondo served as an officer in the American army during WWI.???  (IF HE BECAME AN OFFICER, HE MUST HAVE HAD A HIGH LEVEL OF EDUCATION???) During his tenure stateside, his assigned group participated in a junket seeking rest and relaxation at a nearby town.  That resulted in the entire group being labeled AWOL with the resulting dishonorable discharge.  

In addition to pursuing various job opportunities in the community, sometime before (or after) entering the army, Secondo attended Northwestern University to study pharmacy.   IT MAKES MORE SENSE THAT, BECAUSE HE WAS MADE AN OFFICER, HE HAD SOME COLLEGE BEFORE ENTERING THE ARMY.  Apparently, he was encouraged to open a pharmacy by an associate who resided in New York. The pharmaceutical education enabled him to open a pharmacy shop at 1026 S. Halsted…a few doors south of Taylor Street.  His New York associate financed the venture and became his partner.  Aside:  Gentile pharmacy, at the corner of Taylor and Racine, also served the community’s pharmaceutical needs and their story can be found elsewhere in these archives. (Use Search Engine.)    

The pharmacy served primarily the Italian community. In addition to filling prescriptions from doctors, they sold various products over the counter that were also considered beneficial in curing minor ailments.  Items such as briosci, ????, ????, etc. were stocked in the pharmacies of that era. Secondo even imported leaches from Africa that, in many cases, were prescribed as a cure for various ailments.    

Fast forward to the prohibition era of the roaring twenties and we have the ingenuity of Secondo#2 applying his knowledge of chemistry to participate in the business opportunities that unfolded during that era. Davinci style, Secondo#2 processed extracts from raw materials into flavors to reconfigure the bootlegged alcohol into an assortment of alcoholic drinks, e.g., rum, scotch, bourbon, etc.   Extracts were also used by bakers and other food purveyors.  

The following snippet serves as a window to that era:   On one occasion the Feds, Bureau of _________________,   demanded an accounting for 100 gallons of alcohol that had been delivered to Secondo’s pharmacy.  Perplexed as to how to respond, his mother, Hanna, the matriarch of the family, wisely interjected that the alcohol had evaporated.    

It was on  ______________, 19 ? ?,during the prohibition era, that Secondo married, _______________________. The couple moved out of the Taylor Street neighborhood to 8255 St. Lawrence, on Chicago’s south side.  There they raised their family of five (5) boys.  All attended __________________ public elementary school and Hirsch High School.  All five brothers assisted their father, Secondo, at the wine store during their school days.  They commuted by public transportation, which consisted of electrically operated trolley cars at that time.  


 In addition to their stellar academic achievements, they all excelled in sports, as well.  That combination of academics and athleticism resulted in offers of athletic scholarship.  Frank attended the University of Chicago; Mark attended the University of Wisconsin and later became the Chairman of peoples Gas.  The remaining three brothers attended Notre Dame University in South Bend Indiana.  Frank went on to the university of Illinois dental School; Robert, who received a football scholarship at Notre Dame, pursued a career as a ____________.  And Alfred pursued a successful career as a Financial Advisor.  

Attached Appendix B is a detailed index of their athletic and academic achievements and the careers they entered.    



Fast forward once again into the depression era of the 1930s.  The Volstead act (prohibition) was repealed in 1933. This signaled Secondo’s entrance into the legitimate liquor business.  The 968 South Halsted building that anchored the northeast corner of Taylor and Halsted shopping area, like many businesses during the depression era, was in financial difficulty.  Secondo, always the opportunist, responded to the plight of the owners and, in 1934, purchased the building with the monies he had accumulated in his pharmacy business.  He immediately began establishing contact with the wine growers in California and Italy.  Given his expertise as a trained chemist, he applied his Davinci acumen to assist growers such as Robert Mondavi produce quality wines.  Be reminded that Secondo unselfishly assisted his Taylor Street neighbors produce wine for their personal consumption.  His expertise brought dividends in that he became one of the premier wine distributors in Chicago.  On one occasion, the _________________ wine, sought his acumen in solving a problem that was having a negative impact upon their sales. Their bottled wines were developing a white cloud which, while not affecting the taste of the wine, had a negative visual impact.  He had them leave a bottle of the wine and to return in a week.  Once again, Davinci style, he found the solution to their problem.     

The laws at that time prevented an establishment from being both a retailer and a wholesaler/distributer. Therefore, Secondo had to physically split the liquor store to continue serving the community.  Each section had to have its own entrance.  Neither section could permit access to the other. The retail business consisted primarily of families throughout the Midwest stocking up on their supply of wine once or twice a year.      

The other tenants of the Salvino building during those Camelot days of Taylor Street, included: Broadway Restaurant, Scrooge’s Tavern (operated by Harry Garippo for decades),….  The Ferrara Bakery wedding hall occupied the 2nd floor of the building and hosted the “peanut weddings” of that era.   (Aside: Ferrara’s Bakery is now located on Taylor and Ogden.)


Secondo#2 passed away on ….

His wife, ______________, passed away on….

The Salvino building, along with most of the neighborhood, was demolished in 1963 to make way for the U of I Chicago Campus.  

Each of Secondo’s five (5) children married.  They bore him ________ grandchildren.  The attached Appendix C identifies the grandchildren along with their academic and career achievements. The lust for education remains as the legacy he inherited from his parents during their odyssey from southern Italy to the renaissance culture that permeated the Tuscan region.    Prologue